Below are Andrea's words and my reflections on them. I wish I could include all her beautiful answers (and those of her scenographic animator, James Kendal -- you'll have to go see the show to figure out what that is; it need only be said that James -- dance artist and technological building wizard-- is one of few people who could possibly take this role) but alas time and space are running out. Luckily we have light...
photo of Andrea Nann by Chris Randle
"The word has been with me since the first day in studio four years ago to explore and research a new piece. Two words actually. Light and dual. They were working words. I intended to have a wonderful new title, these were just abstract words." Andrea says.
But they stuck. They became essence and essential.
Andrea is looking at the spectrum of definitions of light: the electro-magnetic transmission that allows us to see, what illuminates the physical world, the ideas that spark in the brain, levity in humour, sensation of the body in relation to gravity, a quality of touch, sense of discovery.
She started research with exploring the idea of the dancers' electro-magnetic fields interacting, an image to charge what she calls the metaphoric body, an engine of creativity, spirit and the personal.
"It is very important to me, finding the images in the first step of a process. If I can activate the artists' imaginations, then we can tap into something on an experiential level. I start with universal, natural-based and organic images..."
Andrea uses this starting place to connect the artists to themselves through an image or idea larger than themselves, and by these explorations their bodies "unravel" as she puts its. They reveal what might be hidden, the blockages or vulnerabilities that exist.
photo by Jeremy Mimnagh
She is careful to create a safe place for this. The object is not to get artists weeping or working through their neuroses, rather to gently open, to trust so that new possibilities emerge in their movements, and then to build strength and stamina for more vulnerable performances that are supported and safe. By plugging them into their personal resonances, they respect and preserve all personal stories and that can build a bridge to the audience and their stories.
Dreamwalker Dance's tagline is "our bridge to the soul."
"Bridge-building is a core value of the company," Andrea says, "and for me in life."
She describes her youth as an experience, among other things, of a visible minority in an academic setting dominated by white males. She felt a lack of connection. And she felt motivated.
"The ways I make, create, share my work in community and theatrical contexts are informed by this. Not just a connection between A and B, but how it relations to translation, conversion, transformation."
A change happens as you go over that bridge.
photo by Jeremy Mimnagh
Dual Light marks a cycling back to what Andrea describes as Yin energy, and holding onto the elements of her first major multi-disciplinary work "The Gleaners" where music, visuals, poetry and dance intermingled.
"I'm going at these things with different values now, our art form, our considerations have evolved, but stem from that same place." she says.
A big part of the process of Dual Light has been looking forward and backward through her life and seeing cycles and patterns, seeing things in oppositions and dualities. These tensions naturally play out on stage, creating strings of energy and vitality that drive the imaginations of both the performers and the audience.
Dual Light is collaborative to its core. Through a process in which dancers created their own movement, conceived, directed and shaped by Andrea, collaborators layer themselves into the content of the work. Collaboration in fact becomes part of the content. Andrea refers to a darker, more feminine energy, no doubt also influenced by her dramaturg Sarah Chase.
"One of the best dramaturgs in Canada." she says.
Sarah Chase is a whiz with words and movement, with wiring together song, live and recorded sound, text and singing and movement. With Andrea's sensitivity and curiously innate ability to see ancient light through contemporary lenses, I can only imagine this a magical partnership.
As Andrea speaks more about this collaborative process, her certainty and confidence is evident, all with the gentility and passion that she possesses on and off stage. With a work that is narrative, autobiographical, conversational and theoretical all at once, with multiple layers of technical and technological elements, her voice memos answering my questions are calm and sure.
The key to this apparent calmness may be in the gestation period of Dual Light. Begun over 4 years ago, it has been visited and revisited in small pockets of time since 2014, often with rehearsal processes occurring during solstices or equinoxes, coincidentally.
Making a dance is a big investment, financially, temporally, energetically. Sometimes timelines for projects drag on simply because the money isn't there to make a production happen. But sometimes too, that is a boon for the project.
New stories emerge over four years, collaborators carry the ideas with them through the down time, little dormancies that awake later. As years pass you grow more comfortable with being yourself.
Andrea says, "The dancers are playing themselves, no transmitting, no interpreting something else. They have been invited to just be themselves."
And maybe in witnessing them, we will all be a little more at ease with being ourselves too.
photo by Jeremy Mimnagh
October 19-21st at 8pm
at Harbourfront Centre Theatre
More info: http://www.danceworks.ca/